Join for a Free Newsela Account

It's free to read Newsela. Join and get unlimited access to read every article at every reading level.

SPORTS
 

Fifth-grade Catholic youth team forfeits season rather than kick girls off

The St. John's fifth-grade CYO basketball team refused to play its game on February 10, 2017, after the team was told its girl players could not participate. Photo: by John O'Boyle/NJ Advance Media
The St. John's fifth-grade CYO basketball team refused to play its game on February 10, 2017, after the team was told its girl players could not participate. Photo: by John O'Boyle/NJ Advance Media

For several years, a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball team in New Jersey had included a pair of girls. But recently the squad, now in the fifth grade, was presented with a difficult choice: Drop the girls, per the archdiocese's rules, or forfeit the season.

The team's decision was unanimous. It was also courageous and inspiring.

Before a game Friday against a squad from another parish, the youngsters from St. John the Apostle decided to forgo their final two games, plus the postseason, rather than play without two longtime teammates. "It's not fair that we get to move on but they can't," one of the boys said afterward.

"It has a big impact on me because it shows that they care," one of the girls told NJ.com. "I'm part of them just as they're part of me, and they don't want to break that bond, just like I don't want to break that bond.

"I think the rules are ridiculous."

The rule should have prevented the team from ever having girls on it, the children were told by the league's director approximately two weeks ago. The "illegal" players meant that the squad's record that season was erased (per NJ.com). The Archdiocese of Newark official in charge of the league did not reply to a request from The Post for a comment.

Despite the warning, the whole St. John's team showed up for Friday's game against St. Bartholomew the Apostle, causing the tip-off to be delayed as parents and coaches tried to figure out how to proceed. Eventually, a parent put the question to the fifth-graders: "Is your decision to play the game without the two young ladies on the team, or do you want to stay as a team as you have played all season, with the girls on the team?"

The children were asked to vote with a show of hands, and all 11 went up in favor of staying "as a team."

A mother of one of the girls, who is also a coach on the team, reminded the squad that "this would be the end" of its season, including the playoffs. "It doesn't matter," one boy said.

After the St. Bart's team left the gym, with some parents of those players expressing regret about the situation, St. John's players split into two sides - girls included - and played a game that was meaningless, in terms of the league's standings, but filled with significance for all involved.

"These kids are doing the right thing," a parent said, showing emotion at her "pure pride" in their decision. "We don't have to tell them what to do. They just know. It's amazing."

A spokesman for the archdiocese told NJ.com that rules specify that girls and boys can't play on the same team and that the St. John athletic director admitted he made a mistake by permitting the two girls to join the squad several years ago. The cardinal of the archdiocese, responding to parents of the players, initially agreed that the girls should be allowed to finish out the season, but they said that he subsequently rescinded that decision for legal reasons.

A nearby school in the same archdiocese, St. Theresa's in Kenilworth, New Jersey, recently made national news when it expelled a 12-year-old girl, Sydney Phillips, in response to a lawsuit her parents had filed to prevent her from being barred from the boys' team. Earlier this month, an appellate court judge ruled that Phillips be allowed to return to the school pending a fuller hearing.

Phillips had tried to join the boys after her own squad had been discontinued because not enough other girls were interested in playing, which was the same problem the St. John's girls had faced at a much earlier age. Thanks to an apparent oversight, their ability to play with male classmates allowed the girls to pursue their athletic passion, but on Friday, they had to settle for an uplifting display of team spirit.

"The positive thing we saw was that everyone came together and supported each other, because that's what Catholic school and being a Christian is all about," a St. John's parent, wearing a T-shirt with the phrase "#unitygames," told the team afterward. He added, fighting tears, "What I see here is the reason why we send our children here."

UPDATE The Archdiocese of Newark's archbishop, Joseph Tobin, announced the girls are to be put back on the team, the two regular games that were not played are to be rescheduled, and the team is to remain together for the playoffs.

Join for a free account to read the full article.
Related Articles:
Related Text Sets:

Quiz

1260L

You must be a registered user

to submit quizzes.

1
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

All of the following sentences from the article suggest that parents think girls should be allowed to play on boys' teams EXCEPT:

A

Eventually, a parent put the question to the fifth-graders: "Is your decision to play the game without the two young ladies on the team, or do you want to stay as a team as you have played all season, with the girls on the team?"

B

A nearby school in the same archdiocese, St. Theresa's in Kenilworth, New Jersey, recently made national news when it expelled a 12-year-old girl, Sydney Phillips, in response to a lawsuit her parents had filed to prevent her from being barred from the boys' team.

C

"These kids are doing the right thing," a parent said, showing emotion at her "pure pride" in their decision.

D

He added, fighting tears, "What I see here is the reason why we send our children here."

2
Anchor 1: What the Text Says

Which of the following aspects of the article is NOT thoroughly discussed?

A

why the archdiocese has rules prohibiting girls and boys from playing on the same team

B

why two girls were initially allowed to play on the St. John's basketball team

C

why girls-only basketball squads were discontinued at two Catholic schools in New Jersey

D

why the St. John's players opted to disregard the rules and keep the girls on the team

3
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Why does the author include the following quote from a St. John's parent?

"The positive thing we saw was that everyone came together and supported each other, because that's what Catholic school and being a Christian is all about," a St. John's parent, wearing a T-shirt with the phrase "#unitygames," told the team afterward. He added, fighting tears, "What I see here is the reason why we send our children here."

A

to show that the parent is angry and emotional about the rules enforced by the Archdiocese of Newark

B

to show that the parent appreciates how Catholic schools encourage children to do what is right

C

to show that the parent is moved by the team's decision and thinks the players embody Christian values

D

to show that the parent respects the school's decision and thinks his children are getting a good education

4
Anchor 6: Point of View/Purpose

Read the following claim from the ninth paragraph of the article.

"It doesn't matter," one boy said.

How would the girls on the St. John's team MOST likely respond to this claim?

A

They would tell the boy that he should be more tolerant of girls on boys' teams.

B

They would disagree and emphasize the importance of attending the playoffs.

C

They would argue that it does in fact matter that the decision ended the team's season.

D

They would agree that it does not matter since the team knows they did the right thing.

Write

1260L
{{ answers_for_review[0].student.user.first_name }} {{ answers_for_review[0].student.user.last_name }}
Write Preview

Write is a feature that allows students to answer open-ended questions. Teachers are able to customize which questions they want to ask their students.


Sample Prompt

Write a short paragraph that explains the central idea of the article. Use at least two details from the article to support your response.

Escriba un párrafo corto que explique la idea central del artículo. Use al menos dos detalles del artículo para apoyar su respuesta.

Select a class for your response
{{classroom.name}} / {{teacher.user.last_name}},
Edit Prompt
Your Prompt
Default

Note: Some of your students have already responded to the default prompt. You are editing a prompt that students have already written against. Editing the prompt now may affect the meaning of existing student work.


Recommended Annotation Visible only to you
     
Annotate

Unable to save at this time.